Microsoft has found itself under fire after its recently concluded 2016 Xbox Game Developers Conference was widely criticized for featuring scantily-clad female go-go dancers as entertainment in the otherwise professional networking event.
Considering that Microsoft has been trying very hard to address diversity and equality in the tech and gaming industry, the sheer presence of the female entertainers was enough to make a number of female GDC attendees quite uncomfortable.
Among those who responded negatively to the entertainers' presence was the editor of Tin Man Games, Kamina Vincent, who was one of the first who reported on the issue.
"The hired dancers were immediately noticeable from their outfits because they seemed dressed completely differently to everyone else for the event, wearing a cleavage-enhancing crop top and short miniskirt," she said.
Indeed, from a certain perspective, the fact that the dancers were wearing provocative clothing seemed like two steps backward from what Microsoft has been trying to do so far.
Responding to the incident, Microsoft has issued a full apology, with Xbox chief Phil Spencer fully denouncing the incident.
"It's unfortunate that such events could take place in a week where we worked so hard to engage the many different gaming communities in the exact opposite way. I am personally committed to ensuring that diversity and inclusion are central to our everyday business and our core values as a team, inside and outside the company," he said.
The Xbox chief further pledged that the matter is being taken very seriously and that those responsible would face appropriate action from the company.
"That was unequivocally wrong and will not be tolerated. This matter is being handled internally, but let me be very clear - how we represent ourselves as individuals, who we hire and partner with and how we engage with others is a direct reflection of our brand and what we stand for," he said.
Unfortunately, it seemed as if this is not the first time Microsoft events featured female entertainers, such as the controversial dancers in the 2016 GDC. Games Developer Brianna Wu stated that the trend has been going on for some time.
"This is a pattern with Microsoft at their professional events. I have seen them hire scantily clad women to perform at their parties at San Francisco, most recently during Gamesbeat," she said.
"I'm a very sex-positive feminist. The issue here isn't the women, who are simply making a living. The problem is it's very inappropriate for a professional networking event."